The nature of dynamical explanation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The received view of dynamical explanation is that dynamical cognitive science seeks to provide covering-law explanations of cognitive phenomena. By analyzing three prominent examples of dynamicist research, I show that the received view is misleading: some dynamical explanations are mechanistic explanations and in this way resemble computational and connectionist explanations. Interestingly, these dynamical explanations invoke the mathematical framework of dynamical systems theory to describe mechanisms far more complex and distributed than the ones typically considered by philosophers. Therefore, contemporary dynamicist research reveals the need for a more sophisticated account of mechanistic explanation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-263
Number of pages26
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamical systems
  • scientific explanation
  • cognitive models
  • mechanistic explanation
  • Embodied Cognition


Dive into the research topics of 'The nature of dynamical explanation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this